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Vantage point

Beating the past

I’m glad people don’t judge me by some of the things I’ve done. No, I’ve never done drugs or been in jail. In fact, though I was far from perfect, most of the mischief I got into as a youth was of a relatively minor sort — like the time my dad told me not to climb through the kitchen window and ... well, you know.

I’ve often joked about my lack of a testimony. "Yep, when I was saved out of a life of sin at age 5 … ." (It is, in reality, a great testimony to have known Christ from a young age.)

But I’ve done a few things I’d rather forget. Every once in a while I’ll run into an old friend who’ll say, "I remember when … ."

Lucky for me that most of my old friends are old enough that their memories aren’t very good. A Sunday school teacher in one of my pastorates had a great defense for this. When someone related a story about him, he would claim that he had been confused with someone else. This is believable the first couple of times, but when the accounts mount from a variety of sources, people begin to wonder — even if you are a Sunday school teacher.

Of course, if you happen to be a minister, people will cut you no slack. You’ve heard that vicious rumor about clergy being the worst drivers? (As a youth, I was nearly run over once by my pastor.) This propensity for mischief among men of the cloth may give you a little insight into the challenge a Christian college presents to teachers and administration.

Of course, over the years, these stories grow and change. Somewhat like the old fishing axiom: "Question: What is a fish’s greatest period of growth? Answer: The time between when it got away and when the fisherman tells how big it was."

During my first (youthful) pastorate, a member of the church spent considerable time telling other members what a lousy preacher I was. No one admitted that they agreed with him — and I certainly didn’t at the time. But in retrospect, there may have been a point there. He just didn’t have to go and call it to everyone’s attention.

My point is that, no matter how long we’ve known the Lord, there are unpleasant memories from our past. Christmastime often brings those memories to the surface and makes the season emotional.

But as we wring our hands over the errors of the past, God says, "I don’t remember that." He has cast them into a sea of forgetfulness. We should do the same.

— Ken Horn

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